Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Liberal Studies


James Wilson

Subject Categories

Ethnomusicology | Music Performance | Theatre History | Yiddish Language and Literature


Yiddish music, Yiddish theater, theater history, ethnomusicology


My capstone project is a research-based performance about the Broder Singers, the first Yiddish actors. They performed primitive musical and theatrical pieces in Yiddish beginning in the mid-19th century in non-theatrical spaces such as taverns and gardens, in Eastern Europe. They were part of a larger movement creating secular Yiddish culture beyond the religiously proscribed expressions of traditional Jewish life. Largely born and raised in traditional communities themselves, they mocked wealthy religious community leaders, utilized gender drag, and compassionately portrayed impoverished people. This white paper explores the context of their work and draws on primary sources such as memoirs, published music and commercial recordings to weave together a live, interactive performance that brings historical characters and pieces to life.

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